For the first time since the Spanish influenza of 1918, life expectancy is falling for a significant number of American women.Although it's not mentioned in the article, I suspect that our dysfunctional healthcare system has a lot to do with this, too.
In nearly 1,000 counties that together are home to about 12 percent of the nation's women, life expectancy is now shorter than it was in the early 1980s, according to a study published today.
The downward trend is evident in places in the Deep South, Appalachia, the lower Midwest and in one county in Maine. It is not limited to one race or ethnicity but it is more common in rural and low-income areas. The most dramatic change occurred in two areas in southwestern Virginia (Radford City and Pulaski County), where women's life expectancy has decreased by more than five years since 1983.
The trend appears to be driven by increases in death from diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema and kidney failure. It reflects the long-term consequences of smoking, a habit that women took up in large numbers decades after men did, and the slowing of the historic decline in heart disease deaths.
It may also represent the leading edge of the obesity epidemic. If so, women's life expectancy could decline broadly across the United States in coming years, ending a nearly unbroken rise that dates to the mid-1800s.